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Indian Government Made 1061 Requests To Google For User Data; Incomplete Data

Update: An update on DMCA notifications. PTI reports that Google received four takedown requests from the Indian Premier League. I wouldn’t call this censorship, though: straightforward, violation of copyright. Google also adds that data and removal requests in India and Brazil are high due to the popularity of Orkut. Just wondering: does Facebook get any such requests from India?

April 21st, 2010: As a user, this would worry you: the Indian government made as many as 1061 requests for user information from Google over a six month period, from July 1st-December 31st 2009, the company has disclosed as a part of an initiative to provide greater transparency to users around Government requests. Google will update this data every six months. Of course, it isn’t India alone in being publicly exposed by Google: it ranks number four in user information requests, after Brazil, United States of America and United Kingdom, and number three in requests for removal, after Brazil and Germany.

While Google is flying the ‘Freedom of Expression’ flag, I wonder what it is trying to achieve with this initiative. My take is that this is yet another instance of Google becoming increasingly political, and trying to exerting its influence. By sharing the number of requests, which will undoubtedly be discussed and debated by citizens and the media, Google appears to be attempting to influence governments against making more such requests.

Which government wants to be seen as restrictive? Yet, before jumping to the conclusion down that governments are necessarily evil, one should realize that the data being released by Google is clearly incomplete, and not enough information is being revealed about the nature of the requests made. For all you know, some of the information sought might be for libelous profiles or content, and someone’s rights might have been infringed.

A company is governed by the laws of the country in which it operates, and it is for Google to comply with the laws: if the law allows the government to make undue requests of Google for user information, it can choose to leave, or contest it in court.

But since Google is all about transparency, we’d request them to put up another tool: one which allows us to track the number of copyright infringement complaints and DMCA take-down notices on YouTube and Blogger. How about it?

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